Future Visions for U.S. Defense Policy

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In 1998, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) published a Defense Policy Review: Future Visions for U.S. Defense Policy, Four Alternatives Presented as Presidential Speeches.

Sponsored by CFR as a "A Council Policy Initiative" (CPI), the book was directed by John Hillen, then CFR's Olin Fellow for National Security Studies, and Lawrence J. Korb, then CFR's director of studies. The CPI, according to the introduction by Leslie H. Gelb, then CFR's President, was the "symbol and substance of the Council's effort to spark the debate that our nation requires ... because we believe that a serious debate on U.S. defense policy review is long overdue, and this is an issue that should be addressed during the [2000] presidential election campaign."

The 1998 publication "was based on the work of several analysts ...[and] subjected to peer reviews by experts in many different areas, from diverse fields and backgrounds, and holding many different viewpoints." The "core team" consisted of John Hillen, who acted as both Project Director and Speech Editor; Harvey Sicherman from the Foreign Policy Research Institute; Leslie H. Gelb and John Hillen as the National Security Adviser Memorandum Writers; Consulting Analysts Michael O'Hanlon (Brookings Institution), Michael G. Vickers (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments), and Carl Conetta with Charles Knight (Project on Defense Alternatives, Commonwealth Institute); and Susan Lynne Tillou, Research Associate. CFR Military Fellows Colonel George Flynn (USMC) and Frank Klotz (USAF) assisted the Council staff on the project.

At a July 24, 1997, meeting, Michele A. Flournoy from the Department of Defense and Kenneth M. Pollack, then at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy were among those to meet with the project group to help vet the speeches and early drafts. A second review meeting on October 6, 1997, was joined by Fred C. Ikle (Center for Strategic and International Studies) and Brent Scowcroft, (Scowcroft Group).

Funding, according to the published document, was provided through "the generous support of the Smith Richardson Foundation and the Ploughshares Fund. A summer 2000 revision by Lawrence Korb was published by via another generous grant from the Ploughshares Fund.

The Four Speeches

  • Speech One: "Enhanced Defense": "A plan to reduce the strain on small and underfunded U.S. military forces by increasing the size of the force, adding to the budget, decreasing participation in some peacekeeping operations, refocusing U.S. strategy on deterrence and war fighting, and investing in the technologies of the future, including a robust national missile defense."
"First, we will redirect our military's attention to the main issue, the deterrence of conflicts in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East that might threaten vital U.S. interests, and not to lesser missions better handled in a different way. Second, we will also make greater investments in advanced weapons and training so that our forces will be able to meet the challenges of the future. Third, we will raise the pay and benefits of our military personnel substantially ... Fourth, we will give our military the resources they need, even though it will cost more ... Fifth, we must develop and deploy a limited defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles. Unless the United States is protected from an attack by a rogue nation, like North Korea or Iraq, our ability to take action around the world will be undermined."
  • Speech Two: "An Innovative Defense": "A plan to take advantage of a time of relative peace and reduced threats by radically changing the U.S. military to capitalize on revolutionary technological advances and thereby be better prepared for the conflicts of the future--and within current spending levels."
"We must master the technological revolution and thereby prepare the United States to deal with the challenges of the future--a high-tech future in which military innovations can spell the difference between victory or defeat."
  • Speech Three: "A Cooperative Defense": "A plan to refocus our overly large and expensive Cold War military on cooperative responses to the current challenges of global security such as Kosovo and Bosnia--and reduce overall military spending by some 15 to 20 percent."
"The dangers we face today come less from a potential international rival, such as Russia or China, and more from failing states, such as Rwanda, Haiti, Bosnia, or Kosovo, which, if allowed to fester, sooner or later will undermine the prospects for general peace and prosperity. Other dangers come from nonstate actors such as terrorists or international crime cartels. In addition, there are global problems such as environmental threats, changing demographics, refugees, and scarce resources that affect our security as much or more than an adversarial army. The solution for such problems cannot only be made in America but must involve the international community of nations. The United States, as the preeminent power in the world today, must take the initiative to support such cooperative action because it is the only effective way to deal with these issues. In doing so, we will also be drawing together former adversaries and giving them an increased stake in international stability."
  • Speech Four: "A Prudent Defense": "A plan to keep a slightly smaller military focused on near-term challenges and prepared to meet many different threats, ranging from deterring states of concern to peacekeeping in failed states--and within the current $300 billion budget that will be adjusted annually for inflation."
"We are not going to increase spending on the wrong forces, and we are not going to abandon necessary peacekeeping missions. We are not going to risk our security on a roll of the technological dice. And we are certainly not going to jeopardize our international leadership and our vital interests by a dangerous reduction in the size of our armed forces."
"Instead, we are going to stay the course with a prudent defense .. The prudent approach ... provides for an efficient defense and gives us the flexibility to adjust our course when necessary."
"Greater emphasis on proven technological and organizational innovation that will allow our current forces to be more effective;
"Increased procurement for new and replacement equipment to prepare for the future;
"More effective spending of our resources through the reduction of overhead and the privatization of more support functions."